With the victory, the Crimson Tide moved a step closer to nailing down a Southeastern Conference Tournament first-round bye. The top four teams receive such a bye and Alabama enters the final week of the season in at least a tie for fourth place. Alabama is now 19-9 overall and 8-6 in league play.
MSU dropped its fifth straight, while falling to 19-10 overall and 6-8 in league play. It is only the second time under veteran coach Rick Stansbury that the Maroon and White have fallen in five straight league games.
“Alabama came out with a lot more energy in the second half and we didn’t respond,” Stansbury said. “The foul to end the half is something that just happens. You have to move on and not let it affect the rest of the game. We didn’t do that. We came out and were down 10 points about four minutes into the second half.
“After that, it was a fight from there.”
The Bulldogs were hopeful for a bounce-back after an emotionally draining 73-64 loss to No. 1 Kentucky Tuesday night. MSU also played without the services of freshman phenom Rodney Hood, who injured his knee in the Kentucky loss.
MSU overcame all of that with a spirited first half. Even though the Bulldogs struggled to make shots, the defensive and rebounding efforts were strong. The Bulldogs erased a seven-point first-half deficit to grab a 25-22 lead late in the half. A 3-pointer by Jalen Steele gave the Maroon and White only its second lead of the half.
Holding for a potential final shot of the half, the Bulldogs missed on the offensive end. Alabama rebounded and Trevor Releford was fouled on a long-range 3-point shot attempt as the half expired. All three free throws were made to tie the teams at 25 at halftime.
The Crimson Tide came out and scored the second half’s first five points. From there, the lead sprinted quickly into double digits.
“We had some careless possessions with the basketball,” Stansbury said. “Alabama didn’t do anything differently on defense. We handled their pressure in the first half. In the second half, we didn’t have the focus and energy we needed to compete.
“We got it back to eight a couple of times but it was a struggle to go on a prolonged run.”
An old-fashioned 3-point play by Renardo Sidney and follow-up trey by Steele cut the deficit to 43-38 with 10:34 left. The Crimson Tide scored the game’s next seven points and were not headed from there.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 18 of 47 shots from the field (38.3 percent), 6 of 16 shots from 3-point range (37.5 percent) and 8 of 15 shots from the foul line (53.3 percent). The Crimson Tide hit 25 of 47 shots from the field (53.2 percent), 6 of 11 shots from 3-point range (54.5 percent) and 11 of 12 shots from the foul line (91.7 percent).
Alabama held a 29-27 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 11 assists and 13 turnovers, while the Crimson Tide had 11 assists and 10 turnovers.
Sidney and Dee Bost each had 14 points for the Bulldogs. Arnett Moultrie had a team-high eight rebounds.
Levi Randolph led Alabama with 18 points, while Releford added 10 points.
The Bulldogs play South Carolina at 7 p.m. central time Wednesday. That contest will be televised regionally by the SEC Network. On Saturday, MSU ends the regular season by hosting Arkansas at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Bulldog seniors will be honored pre-game ceremonies, while FSN will have the regional broadcast.
Complete Game Stats